Fresh off her nationally acclaimed poetry reading at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Los Angeles native Amanda Gorman will be presenting her work on another massive stage — the Super Bowl, the NFL announced Wednesday.
According to the league, Gorman, 22, will read a poem before the game honoring three “community heroes,” including a Los Angeles teacher, who will be recognized on the field and serve as honorary captains during the pre-game coin toss.
The community heroes — Los Angeles teacher Trimaine Davis; nurse manager Suzie Dorner of Tampa, Florida; and Marine Corps veteran James Martin of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — will be recognized for their “dedication and selfless commitment to helping others,” according to the league.
During a pre-game ceremony, Gorman will recite an original poem about the honorees “in recognition of their tremendous impact during an unprecedented year.” The reading will be aired during the CBS national telecast.
“We are honored to recognize these three individuals who represent the best in all of us,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “During this incredibly challenging time in our lives, Trimaine, Suzie and James have exemplified the essence of leadership, each in their own way. We are grateful for their commitment and proud to share their stories and recognize them during this special moment on Super Bowl Sunday.”
According to the league, Davis — a former San Diego State University basketball player and current retention coordinator for VIP scholars at UCLA — went to great lengths to ensure students were able to access the internet during the COVID-19 pandemic so they could continue their education. Davis secured hotspots, laptops and tablets for students, and also hosted workshops to ensure families knew how to use them. Davis has also worked to improve the academic success of Black students by working with the Cal State Northridge Black Male Initiative, the San Diego State Student African American Brotherhood and the Afrikan Student Union, according to the league.
Gorman became a national celebrity following her powerful reading as the youngest-ever inaugural poet on Jan. 20. Her reading of her original poem “The Hill We Climb” earned her a standing ovation and national accolades.
Oprah Winfrey, in a tweet, said: “I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering – and so am I.”
Gorman turned to writing at an early age in an attempt to cope with her speech impediment. At age 14, she joined WriteGirl, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that helps teen girls discover the power of their voice through creative writing.
Throughout her high school years at New Roads School in Santa Monica, Gorman attended WriteGirl’s monthly creative writing workshops and was matched with writing mentors for one-on-one mentoring.
“WriteGirl has been pivotal in my life,” she said. “It’s been thanks to their support that I’ve been able to chase my dreams as a writer.”
Gorman was selected in 2014 as the first Los Angeles youth poet laureate and in 2017 as the first national youth poet laureate. She graduated in May from Harvard University with a degree in sociology.
Gorman has two books forthcoming, including her first children’s book, “Change Sings,” set to be published in September.
Gorman was the sixth poet to perform at a presidential inauguration, continuing an intermittent tradition begun in 1961 when Robert Frost recited “The Gift Outright” at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. The previous youngest was Richard Blanco, who was 44 when he read “One Today” at Barack Obama’s second inauguration in 2013.
All the inaugural poets have performed at the swearings-in of Democratic presidents
–City News Service